Traditional brick and mortar retailers have been mired in a slump for most of the last year. To change their fortunes, they need to strengthen their core asset -- their stores. The majority aren't equipped to compete against pure play e-tailers on their own terms -- they don't have e-commerce in their DNA like the Amazons or eBays, they lack the technical skillsets required, and with $260B+ in online sales in the US alone in 2013, it’s too late to put the lid back on Pandora’s Box.
While many view traditional brick and mortar stores as more of an anchor than an advantage, more than 90 percent of retail sales still occur in store. Retailers need to use them to their advantage to push back against e-commerce competition.
Interaction is the Name of the Game
Retailers can improve in-store experiences through emerging technologies which allow interactions with customers on emerging channels like mobile or m-commerce in-store. The main challenge is determining which in store location technology to use. Each technology has its pros and cons.
The ability to engage consumers in store via smartphones -- with their permission, of course -- so that they are no longer invisible has tremendous upside for their business. For customers to participate there has to be something in it for them. Similar to the Internet, retailers have to give something to get something. But knowing a loyal customer has crossed the threshold without having to wait for them to walk up to the register to buy something seems like a great place to start, especially if they leave the store without purchasing. Expanding these capabilities to make suggestions to those customers based on their location and past purchase history as well as offering incentives seems like a logical evolution.
Let's take a look at some of the tools retailers have at their disposal: